Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thank You, Daria Morgendorffer

Dear Daria,

Hey there. I can't believe it's taken me this long to thank you for being exactly who you are.

Let me back up--when I started watching your show in 1997, I was 13 and I couldn't have related more to your plights as a smart, sarcastic teenager in suburban hell. Of course, your sarcasticness hit heights to which I could only dream, but the fact remains that I could relate to you in a way which I couldn't relate to many other characters on TV.

For one, you liked learning and you tried in school. You were labeled a brain, but that didn't bother you much because you could always see a life beyond those 4 years. So often, you thought about where you'd be and the future was always bright for you. Or at least brighter than your currently gloomy present. And even if brains are seen as a stigma by your peers, you embrace it as a badge of honor, and clearly feel that your intelligence is a part of your identity not to be hidden, despite teasing.

Brittany, Daria, and Jane
You also really cared about the female relationships in your life. You and Jane have an incredibly positive, realistic friendship. You are there for each other through some pretty tough situations all peppered with humor, sarcasm of course, and an ability to see the world much more clearly and smartly than your peers. But things aren't perfect between you two either, and that's ok. When your friendship falters over a guy, you put it behind you. I mean--I just don't think Tom was worth it anyway, right? I hope you don't mind me saying.

But your female relationships don't end there. While Jane is clearly the most important to you, and you're often ostracized by the popular kids, you still care about many of them deep down inside. (I know that's hard for you to hear and admit, but, come on, it's true.) I mean, how many times do you help Brittany through some of her vapid issues? And you often bond with Jodi over your shared intelligence.

Daria and Quinn, her popular sister
And then there's your pretty, popular little sister Quinn. I love that you two are so different and often contentious but there's no doubt that when things get real, you'll always have each other backs. In fact, I bet that your high school times were the roughest on your relationship with her. I think you two are probably much closer now. All it took was her maturing a bit, right?

Speaking of maturity, you sure had a lot of it for high schooler. I just love how you don't compromise your integrity. When you're profiled by a wanna-be-young-again creator of a teen magazine you don't cave to her desire to portray you as you are not. And when you're supposed to make art for a school contest that portrays a message about student life, you and Jane team up to create one that tackles eating disorders and the pressure on teen girls to be perfect. And even after your principal pressures you and Jane to change the content, you don't. In short: that's amazing.

Your awesomeness took me through the dark years of middle school and into high school. But I don't think I fully understood how much I related to you until Mr. Nerdy Feminist got me your entire series for Christmas and I started rewatching it all. Never mind the passing of 10-15 years, your stories still pull me in. Your dry sense of humor isn't for everyone, but it does put a smile on my face every time. There are a few things about my teens years that I can look back at and think, "Yeah, I was always a feminist even if I didn't know it." And my love for you, Daria, is one of those things.

So thanks, Daria, for being you. I know that things are good for you know. I'll admit, I'm a bit curious what you're up to, but I have no doubt that whatever it is, you are successful.

Quinn (now 29), Daria and Jane (now 31) and Trent (now 36).

A. Lynn

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